The Western Lines
Rails to the Bay:
Unlike every other electric tram line in Adelaide which was either converted from a horse tram line or built new, the line to Glenelg was converted in 1929 from a steam railway.
Originally built in 1873 by the Adelaide, Glenelg and Suburban Railway Company, trains commenced their journey in Victoria Square and ran through the southern half of King William Street towards South Terrace before running on a seperate reservation right through to the Jetty Road/Brighton Road intersection on the edge of Glenelg before the trains once again ran through the street to Moseley Square in Glenelg. In 1899, the line was purchased by the Government run South Australian Railways and after 1914, trains ceased running through King William Street with services terminating at South Terrace.
In April 1929, work started on converting the steam railway to a new electric tramway. Because of the long section of off street running which was more closely related to an American 'Interurban' line rather then a traditional street tramway, a new tram fleet designed to meet the requirements of the new line was also constructed. As well as being able to run at a higher top speed, the new trams could also be coupled together to carry more passengers in a single movement. The new tram fleet became the famous H type trams. The new Glenelg line was opened in December 1929.
Although closure was considered in the 1950s, the effectiveness of the service helped by running generally free of road traffic meant that the line was retained. The H type tram fleet were upgraded several times and most would ultimately have an active service life of over 76 years. Now extensively rebuilt and run with a new fleet of trams, the Glenelg line continues to serve the city of Adelaide as a viable commuter line.
Serving the Showgrounds and Keswick Barracks:
When the original network of horse tramways was being constructed throughout the City and Suburbs, the South Western corner of the Adelaide CBD was virtually neglected with tram services not commencing until after the rest of the tram system had been electrified.
Opened in October 1911, the new service to the South Western part of the CBD initially started as a loop, starting from the Currie Street tram terminus down King William Street, Grote Street, Brown Street (now Morphett Street), along the North Western edge of Whitmore Square before running along Sturt Street and then north along West Terrace before returning in to Currie Street. Construction of the line was not without controversy as the tram line cut through the corner of Whitmore Square, prompting some letters of concern to the newspapers of the time.
The popularity of the new tram services in Adelaide was such that new extensions where horse trams had not previously run were soon constructed. The West City line (as it was known) was extended south from the intersection of Sturt Street and West Terrace going down West Terrace and Goodwood Road before turning on to Park Terrace (now Greenhill Road) heading west towards Keswick, turning in to Bay Road (now ANZAC Highway) before terminating at the gates entering in to the Keswick Army Barracks. The new extension was opened to tramway traffic in September 1918. After the line was opened, several proposals were put forward to extend the line further towards South Road via Bay Road as well as to South Road via West Beach Road (now Richmond Road) but these proposals did not result in any further extension. From 1925, the line gained a small branch line, running as a loop servicing the Wayville Showgrounds. More history of the loop can be found on the 'Special Services' page.
The reconstruction of Bay Road in to the present ANZAC Highway in the late 1930s spelled the end of the tram service beyond the Keswick bridge. In March 1939, the new road bridge at Keswick was opened and the tram service was truncated just before the bridge at what was known as Wayville West. Services continued to Wayville West (latterly through routed with the Cheltenham line) until the line was closed completely in December 1957.
In to the western suburbs:
While electric trams ultimately did not reach the suburb of Hilton until 1917, the idea of having trams serve the area dated back to the 1890s. Land agents who were trying to develop the area knew that having a tramway would dramatically increase the value of the land in the area they were trying to sell and two fake horse tramway companies were floated, these were the 'Keswick, Ashford, Richmond, Edwardstown and South Road Tramway Company' and the 'Adelaide, Hilton and Garfield Tramway Company'. Being purely speculative ventures, these companies came to nought and eventually horse buses served the area. From the 1890s, Government backed residential development occured in the area.
Hilton was finally served by trams when a branch line was constructed off of the main Henley Beach line. Leaving the mainline at the intersection of Henley Beach Road and Fisher Terrace (now South Road), the new line went south towards the intersection of Rowland Road (now Sir Donald Bradman Drive) where the line once again headed west before terminating at the intersection with Bagot Avenue and Brooker Terrace. The new line was officially opened to traffic in January 1917.
Continuing residential in the area meant that it became necessary to extend the tramway further with the line opening to Richmond in June 1939. From the previous terminus, the extension continued along Rowland Road before turning in to Marion Road and ran south before terminating at the intersection with Richmond Road. Initially, Hilton/Richmond trams ran to the City terminus in Currie Street but after 1952, the service was connected with those running to Magill, Rostevor and Morialta. Richmond line trams survived the 1956 closure of services to Rostrevor and Morialta but services finally ceased in February 1957.
No more western suburbs flooding:
Henley Beach was one of Adelaide’s earliest recreation areas serviced by horse trams from 1883.
To reach Henley Beach and later Henley Extension (Henley North), the electric trams had to cross four creeks including the Fulham reed beds.
Unlike the horse trams, electric trams could not operate in deep water. A viaduct was built. But after the 1938 Western Suburbs drainage scheme, there was no longer a problem. Post-war houses were being built on the former flood plain. Meanwhile, the trams continued to use the old viaduct, even though it was no longer necessary. Termites enjoyed it. It was increasingly propped up with stacks of sleepers and it could no longer do the job.
Buses replaced the trams on 3 February 1957, running via Henley Beach Road. The site of the viaduct became HMAS Australia Road.
Changing tracks in the backstreets of Hindmarsh:
In 1880, the recently formed Adelaide, Hindmarsh and Henley Beach Tramway Company opened a new horse tram line from the City to the suburb of Hindmarsh. Starting at the intersection of King William Street and Hindley Street, the line ran through Hindley Street before going through the Western Parklands via Mile End Road, East Terrace in Thebarton, Shierlaw Terrace (now part of Port Road), the central reserve of Port Road before turning left in to John Street (now South Road) before terminating at the intersection of the John Street and Grange Road. Mile End Road disappeared in 1925 after the opening of the new Bakewell Bridge.
The company was purchased by the Municipal Tramways Trust in 1907 for conversion to a new electric tramway along with most of the other horse tram systems in Adelaide. Instead of following the original horse tram line, the Municipal Tramways Trust decided instead to build the new electric tramway on a completely different alignment. The new service was instead started from North Terrace and ran on the southern side of Port Road (including a new bridge over the railway line at this point) before turning down Deviation Road (now James Congdon Drive) towards Henley Beach Road, Henley Beach Road, Albert Street and Holland Street before crossing over the River Torrens on a dedicated pre-stressed concrete bridge, known as the Holland Street Bridge. After crossing the Torrens, the line proceeded along Chapman Street (now Manton Street) to terminate at the same intersection as the former horse tram line, the intersection of John Street and Grange Road. When everything was ready, the new tram service to Hindmarsh was opened in March 1910. In an odd quirk of history, the new tramway to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre was opened in March 2010, exactly a century after the first electric tramway reached the suburb.
Because of the rather roundaboute route and being entirely single track, services on the Hindmarsh line were limited and improvements to the service eventually became necessary. For trams heading to Hindmarsh, the old route via Deviation Road was no longer used with trams instead going across Port Road and down George Street before reaching Albert Street and returning to the original route. This eliminated the need to go to Mile End via Deviation Road although the former route was retained for many years afterwards. Because the narrow streets of Thebarton precluded the use of conventional double track, a second line was built for trams going to the City. From the northern end of the Holland Street bridge, trams turned east for one block along Adam Street before crossing the River Torrens on a new bridge that connected through to Cawthorne Street. After Cawthorne Street, the tracks turned in to Light Terrace before turning in to Shierlaw Terrace before finally rejoining the old alignment for the rest of the trip back to the City. This new track arrangement was opened in January 1923 allowing for increased services on the line.
Work was also in hand to extend the Hindmarsh line further west in 1923 with the a single track extension built along Grange Road with a passing loop located in Welland before terminating at the intersection with Crittenden Road. This extension opened in April 1923. Local traffic congestion in the area meant that the terminus was shifted slightly further to the east to finally terminate at the intersection with Main Street. After decades of alingment changes, tram services on the Findon line finally settled down to a set route. Tram services on the line to Findon finally ceased in October 1953.